Improve students’ art vocabulary

Lots of my resources focus on getting students to be able to think about and discuss artworks in more depth. Rather than formulaic construction of slightly dry sounding sentences about the artists’ use of line, tone and colour, I’d like to see students provided with the language to speak meaningfully about their responses to images. So, I want to improve students’ art vocabulary.

Easier said than done…

One way to boost both students’ confidence and ability to write about art is to provide the vocabulary. With this in mind I’ve produced a poster/handout with a range of words to spice up artist research. It also enables personal reflections which read in a more exciting way. The download is available through the felt-tip-pen resources shop here.

art and design vocabulary poster

Of course the resource is by no means exhaustive. I’ve tried to balance some common words with more exotic examples which might have them reaching for their dictionaries. I hope it will start a conversation about the kinds of words we use to talk about visual art. And maybe make a bridge with the literacy students might have experienced in English lessons in school.

Literacy in Art on the web

It’s also important to model the use of exciting descriptive language, and to teach the terms specific to our subject. Some resources I’ve found which are good for this are:
* 99designs has a great post about design terminology split into categories such as colour and typology. The words are clearly explained and illustrated, though you may find some of them a tad technical for students. Click here to link to 99 descriptive design words you should know.
* BerryArt’s blog has an interesting post explaining how extending students’ vocabulary can also extend their ability in practical terms too. The article is referenced with sources and very accessible. Click here to link to Characteristics of a High Quality Classroom Environment Part II.
* Cassie Stephen’s blog post is a fun and interesting look at ways to embed vocabulary in the Art classroom. Mainly primary ideas, though some ideas are applicable for secondary too. She has a vibrant website with lots of ideas. Click here to link to In the Art Room: Teaching Vocabulary Part 2.

So with a smidgen of input now, I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be seeing more dazzling penmanship soon!

Below are some other literacy-related art resources on felt-tip-pen to improve students’ art vocabulary:


7 Replies to “Improve students’ art vocabulary”

  1. […] my recent preoccupation with writing about art (see my last two posts on annotation and vocabulary), I have completed the flurry of activity by putting together a literacy mat for my art […]

  2. […] the handouts I have put together to support students particularly with literacy in art can be found here and […]

  3. […] Art vocabulary poster / handout to make written analysis zing! […]

  4. […] have plenty more resources available to download which support artist research:poster to widen and improve vocabularyartist research poster to displaybookmark infographic with artist research […]

  5. […] when getting students to write about art, it is always useful to have this poster on vocabulary on hand to prompt and […]

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